This is the fifth installment of a multipart article about comic art in Somerville. A shorter version of this article was first published in the Fall 2010 issue of Somerville Scout. The Scout’s editor and publisher have graciously granted permission for me to post it here. I will post subsequent sections of the article over the next several weeks.
Part 1 was posted here.
Part 2 was posted here.
Part 3 was posted here.
Part 4 was posted here.
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
Who Is Making Comics in Somerville
Becoming acquainted with the work of some of our local artists will expose you to the many flavors of contemporary comics and comic-inspired art.
Tim Finn, 32. Finn’s interest in comics and animation has paved a path that includes creating independent autobiographical comics, teaching at the Art Institute of Boston (AIB), and writing a coffee table book about the comic book hero, G.I. Joe. “I’m interested in informing and entertaining the reader with innocuous bits of my life,” he says. Indeed, he has spent two and a half years drawing a strip that documents the daily progress on his G.I. Joe book.
Readers can sample Finn’s daily musings in a minicomic, Four Squares, created with Somerville artists Liz Prince, Maris Wicks, and Joe Quinones. Each two-page spread displays a slice-of-life strip by each artist for each day of July 2008. A second such compilation based on strips created in February 2010 is also being published.
In September, Finn began teaching the course “Alternative Comix and the Graphic Novel.” He attributes the existence of this new course to the fact that what used to be a nerdy, fringe, throwaway medium has gone mainstream and is now earning the respect of the academy.
Finn sees Somerville’s comics community as a natural contingent of its overall thriving arts environment. Given the number of artists in Somerville, it’s only logical that a certain percentage of that population would be comic artists.
Raúl González, 33. González remembers not wanting to move to Somerville from San Francisco 10 years ago until he learned about Highwater Books. This fact reassured him that “at least one cool thing was happening here.” Now González attributes much of the successful trajectory of his career to Somerville and its arts community. Though he started out making zines and minicomics, he is now creating art exclusively for fine art galleries and museums.
His current work is strongly rooted in his comic art. He still approaches each work with the same attention to layout and narrative that he applied to his comics. As a first generation American, he is interested in the immigrant experience and the way various ethnic groups have been dehumanized in comic art or other graphic media throughout American history. He continues to create comic art and has contributed to the Boston Comics Roundtable anthology Inbound.
González credits Somerville cafes with his transition from comic books to wall art. When he was invited to display his art in the Diesel Café and the now-defunct Someday Cafe, he realized that his comic drawings were designed for intimate, one-panel-at-a-time perusal in the viewer’s hands. Seeing them on the café walls challenged him to create compositions that would be more compelling on a larger scale. He is now represented by Carroll & Sons Art Gallery in Boston’s South End and is the lead artist on a Community Arts Initiative Project to be exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in April 2011.
Sample of work by Gonzalez: